Ronson for the Gold

I find it very ironic that as we are currently talking about social media and public shaming, two of the biggest shaming of the year so far have occurred. Different from Ronson’s examples of public shaming, these shamings are against companies not individual people. If any of you keep up with the latest trends on Twitter, you might have  seen the constant criticisms about Pepsi’s new commercial starring Kendall Jenner, along with the most recent United Airways incident. Both of these subjects have received massive amounts of shaming from Twitter users. Just as Ronson talks about the impact Twitter users have on the lives of those being shamed, today’s users have had large impacts on the individual companies. Not only are these companies being publicly shamed on social media, but Twitter users have decided to take it a step farther and actually boycott the companies. Both of which have already seen a drop in stocks because of the constant backlash from people. Both companies tried one of the approaches Ronson discussed in his book about how to survive public shaming: not being ashamed. Pepsi and United Airways defended themselves against the attackers by standing their ground about their actions. Unfortunately, that did not go over well with users. Pepsi was forced to take down the commercial and United Airways now has a possible lawsuit against them.

In Ronson’s book, he talks about many other examples of public shaming that he has witnessed and come to discover. From Justine Sacco to Max Mosley, Ronson takes us through the details of each situation and then talks with victims and attackers to see how the incident has affected them. Although at times Ronson does seem to take a comparable stance with Carr about technology, I really don’t feel that Ronson’s book is all that similar to the other two we have read. Yes, Ronson mostly talks about public shaming using technology, but his main concern in the book isn’t technology. His main concern is public shaming. Technology just happens to be a part of that in modern-day. Carr and Boyd however write specifically about the effects of using technology. They analyze research data and make a conclusion based on what they have found. Ronson’s stance on technology isn’t as clear. It seems throughout the book that at times, he stands on the side of the attackers, but once he talks with the victims and sees how easily a public shaming incident can ruin a person’s life, he grows more sympathy for them.

Boyd and Ronson do overlap some of the same ideas however. Boyd also interviews many teens to find out exactly how they feel about technology and their experiences while using it. I think that after talking with those people, Boyd came to a more positive conclusion about technology. She doesn’t blame technology for the evils that have occurred in society. Bullying. Shaming. They have all already been in our lives but now technology just amplifies them. Ronson also touches on this point. He discussed how public shaming and humiliation started back in colonial times. But, even though it was eventually outlawed, shaming in everyday situations continues to happen. Ronson interviewed many of the attackers and asked them if they felt any guilt when ruining that person’s life. Some were very remorseful about it when seeing the after effects, however others felt that it was “their duty” to call out the evil before them. (Carr would argue that people feel less empathy and sympathy for the victims they attacked because of their immense usage of technology.) Ronson makes the point that each of the attackers made a choice as to whether they wanted to shame that person or not. Whether they thought they were “doing something good” or not, they each made the choice. Technology never came into play when making their decision. Technology just amplified that decision so that millions of people across the world could now take part in the shaming as well (another choose that users have).

Overall, I think I preferred Ronson’s book out of the three. He didn’t take a scientific stand point about the issue he discussed. His journalistic skill allowed him to tell a story while also adding his own opinion after each story. Because of this I didn’t feel as though he was forcing me to feel a certain way about technology and public shaming. He just gave me the information I needed to come to my own conclusion.

Author: Amanda DeFilippis

I am a Sophomore currently studying Communications at the University of Delaware.

4 thoughts on “Ronson for the Gold”

  1. I tend to agree with your final analysis of Ronson’s book. I did like the story format which left the reader feeling the emotions of the attacked and ‘understanding’ the attacker.

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  2. While I agree that Ronson definitely took a more journalistic approach, allowing us to reach our own conclusions, seeing his tone and voice on video (the TED Talk in class), I could definitely see his opinions shine through. I like how going from words we think one thing (using a journalistic approach), but when we go to another medium such as video, we see a whole new perspective (empathy for the ones that were shamed).

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  3. I agreed with a lot from this post: Ronson is overall my favorite book because it is 1) more entertaining and 2) more open to discussion. However, i think that both he and boyd are really trying to focus on the human impact and its relationship with technology, and Carr is more like the outsider.

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  4. I couldn’t agree more with what you wrote. I completely favor Ronson’s book out of the three we read simply because it is so interesting and he doesn’t force you to feel a certain way about technology. Also I like how you brought up the point that although Ronson focuses on things that happen because of technology, his main concern isn’t about technology at all but the people that are using it. His personal opinion about modern technology and how it has affected us is unclear which I like since that leaves so much more room for the reader to come up with their own opinions

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